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XML in the Wilderness (Keynote at DocTrain West 2008)


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This presentation takes a slightly provocative look at the history of XML and finds that after several years the focus of XML has returned to handling rich document content.

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  • Thanks Ellie

    I have been evolving the 'history of content technologies' for about 11 or so years now (I think I first used the general thread leading up to XML and beyond in 1999). I general I find that audiences have really warmed to the historical elements of my talks - almost as if it brings some new life to the tools that they have found themselves using. And when I see that it strikes a positive chord, I am accordingly pleased. That this particular casting wins such high praise from you makes me all the more pleased (:-]

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  • This was wonderful! By far the most appealing slide presentation I've ever seen on XML, web development and history of science, illustrated with context appropriate classic images throughout time.

    This deserves a lot more than 297 views!

    What a great presentation, wow!
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XML in the Wilderness (Keynote at DocTrain West 2008)

  1. 1. XML in the Wilderness Joe Gollner Vice President Stilo International Copyright © Stilo International 2008
  2. 2. Patron Saint of Content Management Saint Jerome - Caravaggio (1605) Saint Jerome (347 – 420 AD) Patron Saint of Libraries, Librarians, Archivists and Encyclopaedists St Jerome in his Study - Antonello da Messina (1460)
  3. 3. XML in the Wilderness A Little Background A Brief History of Content Technologies What about Content? Pointing towards the Hypertext Horizon St Jerome in the Wilderness Albrecht Dürer (1495)
  4. 4. Markup and the Curious World of Content 1705 Jonathan Swift John Dunton Inter-Textuality Reference | Reuse | Republish | Ridicule
  5. 5. A Brief History of Content Technologies Where did content technologies come from? What lessons can we take from this history? Does it help us see XML differently? Does this shed light on how we might create and share content in the future?
  6. 6. In the Beginning …were table(t)s… …and and books…
  7. 7. Memex Adapting to the Exponential Growth in pg p Knowledge Resources 1940 1960 1980 2000
  8. 8. Some “Provocative” Definitions Data Dt Data is the meaningful representation of experience Information Information is the meaningful organization of data communicated in a specific context with the purpose of informing others Knowledge Knowledge is the meaningful organization of information, expressing an evolving understanding of a subject and establishing a basis for judgment and the potential for action. Content What is “contained” and “communicated” Accommodates Data, Information, and Knowledge
  9. 9. The Knowledge Dynamic The persistence of content is what has allowed this dynamic to accelerate at an exponential rate
  10. 10. Knowledge Application with Technology Leveraging Knowledge through Automation The modern organization cannot survive without automation as a means to encapsulate & leverage knowledge 1940 1960 1980 2000
  11. 11. Augmenting Human Intelligence Leveraging Automation to Assist Personal and Team Productivity Douglas Engelbart Workstation - 1966 Workstation - 1968 1940 1960 1980 2000
  12. 12. The Internet Connecting Organizations to form Knowledge Enterprises Enterprise: bold, imaginative undertaking enabled by the sharing of knowledge 1940 1960 1980 2000
  13. 13. The Vision of Hyper-Text Envisioning content forms that reflect how people think and collaborate Theodor (Ted) Holm Nelson 1940 1960 1980 2000
  14. 14. Proprietary Content Formats Limiting the Interchangeability and Usefulness of all data types g g y yp
  15. 15. CALS – Tackling the Interchange Problem PROBLEM INTERIM SOLUTION GOAL STDS Supplier Client Supplier Client Supplier and Client 1940 1960 1980 2000
  16. 16. Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) 1940 1960 1980 2000
  17. 17. SGML SGML Reflected human communication patterns Provided substantial flexibility Automated processing was “difficult” Adopted in documentation-intensive sectors Charles Goldfarb Military, Aerospace and Commercial Publishing y, p g The Father Th F th of SGML The Key Innovation of SGML: naming something (understanding) is different than describing what should be done with it (behaviour) naming something is the important part naming something and defining its behaviour benefits from sophistication
  18. 18. The World Wide Web Where there’s a Will there’s a Way y 1940 1960 1980 2000
  19. 19. World Wide Web – The Success of Simplicity Original Objective (1989) “to allow information sharing within internationally dispersed teams” HTML: HTML a simple use of a complex standard il f l tdd Sir Tim Berners-Lee The Father The K I Th Key Innovation of the Web: ti f th W b of the Web deciding what to do (intention) is different than determining how it should be done (execution) deciding what to do is the important part communicating an intention and successfully executing it benefits from simplicity
  20. 20. Extensible Markup Language (XML) Source: Microsoft 1940 1960 1980 2000
  21. 21. The Key Innovations of XML The Key Innovations of XML: Fusing the innovations of SGML and the Web naming something (understanding) is different than describing what should be done with it (behaviour) deciding what to do (intention) is different than determining h dt i i how it should b d h ld be done ( (execution) ti ) Yuri Rubinsky The Spiritual Father XML exhibits an unresolved tension between of XML Sophistication to meet the needs of application integration Simplicity to meet the needs of people interacting with technology
  22. 22. XML The driving focus for XML has been facilitating a revolution in the way technology applications are d i li ti designed,d developed and deployed This addressed the failure of preceding approaches to adapt to genuinely open systems This focus explains a g p great deal about the character of XML
  23. 23. Web 2.0 – The Social Web The second Emergent revolution in consequence web adoption of integration 1940 1960 1980 2000 2010
  24. 24. Web 2.0 – All About Engagement Web 2 0 has been called “The Participatory Web” 2.0 The Web Key technical elements include: AJAX – Asynchronous JavaScript and XML simple syndication protocols – RSS / ATOM simplified web services – Aggregator APIs Folksonomies – collaborative tagging Processable content – XHTML / CSS / Microformats Addressable, traceable, dynamic, collaborative content – wiki / blog Much closer to the original idea behind the ‘web’ The centrality of XML in making this possible is often missed
  25. 25. What About Content?
  26. 26. What XML has meant for Content Authors Authoring in XML exhibits two contradictory challenges Too much markup Gets in the way of creating content Forces a reliance on unfamiliar tools Adds a level of technical complexity to what is a creative task Not enough markup Some content demands precision Authors need clear guidance and useful feedback in order to satisfy this demand As more content is delivered to applications, this is more common
  27. 27. What XML has meant for Information Architects Information Modeling Syntax stabilization (restriction) Vocabulary definition constraints Models mirror communication patterns less naturally Sought simplicity & processability New language for declaring rules XML Schema (data constraints) Implementation Specific constraints on markup use Encourages instance verbosity Many complexities reintroduced Application challenges remained
  28. 28. What XML has meant for Publishers XML Multi-Format Multi Format Automatic Publishing Authoring ith A th i with Structured Markup
  29. 29. What XML has really meant for Publishers XML Persistent Multi-Channel Interaction Continuous C ti Collaboration
  30. 30. Content Happens What is the nature of content really? Is it just the physical trace of an expression? Is it always new and original? No - Not really Or does content mix what previously existed with something new? Yes – More Likely Maybe content is fundamentally synthetic (an aggregate or composite) if d t ll th ti ( t it ) accumulates over time and evolves continuously through use is far from static and follows a path that is not predictable Maybe content is more of a process than a product?
  31. 31. Embedded Markup Considered Harmful (1997) Ted Nelson Has been a vocal critic of structured markup Sees it as an impediment & an intrusion Primary Objections to Embedded Markup Complicates editing & change tracking Impedes transpublishing Theodor (Ted) Holm Nelson Reuse must be unimpeded Reuse often introduces changes Enforces unnatural & constraining structures on communication Ef tl t ii tt i ti What is needed would accommodate: The “anarchic and overlapping relations” pp g “deep version management” the “vast interconnectedness of ideas” ... Hypertext
  32. 32. Something on the Hypertext Horizon Darwin I f D i Information T i A hit t ti Typing Architecture (DITA) Online Access Wireless Access Customers Call Centre Staff C ll C t St ff Print Manuals PDF Sources Topics Repositories Maps Products Emerging out of the relatively mundane world of software and hardware documentation. An assemblage of “SGML Dirty Tricks”…
  33. 33. The Tao of DITA: Handling Variability & Change Type Hierarchy Maps Default Topic Behaviour Applications A Core Behaviour Concept Task Reference Specializations Specific Specialization Overrides Domains highlight programming software UI Base Elements new semantics specialization Introduces and continues to evolve a framework for handling content and its challenges more gracefully. Application layers are given a chance.
  34. 34. DITA enables an interesting mix of practices Promotes simplified markup for most content Allows specialization to be introduced When more detailed markup guidelines help authors When precise markup is essential for downstream applications Is introducing more sophisticated reuse behaviour
  35. 35. The Emergence of Content Technologies The initial focus of XML has not been on content DITA represents a serious p effort to direct attention towards the challenges of content The appearance of Web 2.0 is a sign that the infrastructure is maturing in its content handling Simplified interfaces Dynamic version management Instant l b l i t I t t global interaction ti Hypertext is becoming possible
  36. 36. XML Returns from the Wilderness Saint Jerome Headed into isolation in the Syrian Desert Learned Hebrew Was able to create a new Latin translation of the bible (Vulgate) Established the t d d f E t bli h d th standard reference XML The fruits of success in application pp integration are being seen (Web 2.0) DITA shows promise Addressing key content challenges Leveraging more of the SGML legacy St Jerome in his Study Creating industry momentum Albrecht Dürer (1492)
  37. 37. Conclusion We can start to handle & leverage content in its true h i it t hypertext form t tf -- for the first time Joe Gollner VP e-Publishing Solutions Stilo International S il I i l